Report: Theo Epstein “actively looking” to hire GM in order to become Cubs’ president

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Many were surprised when SI’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Cubs were interested in hiring Padres general manager Jed Hoyer. Now it makes a lot of sense.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Theo Epstein is “actively looking” to hire a general manager, a move that would enable him to become the Cubs’ president of baseball operations.

It’s unclear whether Hoyer would want to join Epstein in Chicago or whether San Diego would grant him permission to leave. Hoyer, who worked with the Red Sox for eight years before being hired as Padres GM in October of 2009, is under contract through 2013 with a club option for 2014. The Cubs are still negotiating compensation with the Red Sox for Epstein, but it’s possible they could find themselves in another compensation situation with San Diego.

One interesting twist is that the Padres have a potential in-house replacement for Hoyer in the form of Josh Byrnes. He served as vice president of baseball operations this season and formerly worked as Diamondbacks GM under Jeff Moorad, who is now the majority owner of the Padres.

Of course, Byrnes has also been mentioned as a possible assistant to Epstein in Chicago, so this could go any number of directions in the coming days.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.